Route 66 events (brrrr!):  Warm thoughts of the 2014 Berwyn Route 66 Car Show

Hi there, fellow roadies!  How ya doin’ with that polar vortex??  Have you been buried under layers of silk, wool and down this month?  Wearing two pairs of gloves and three pairs of socks, indoors?  Drinking hot cocoa and trying to think warmer thoughts??  Well, we can’t warm you up as fast as an XXX-rated movie might, but we can certainly turn your attention away from the freezer outside to things that should bring a smile.  With the annual Chicago Auto Show ongoing at McCormick Place through Feb. 22, it’s an opportune time to look back at last autumn’s annual Berwyn (IL) Route 66 Car Show … and dream.

Suddenly those cars with the flame-throwing exhaust systems actually look appealing, eh?  Yeah, we thought they might.  But hang on to your mittens anyway (they actually work better for keeping your hands warm).

2014 Berwyn Car Show 3 - nitro fuel demo - blog (MRTraska)So:  back on that sunny, cloudless Saturday in early September, yours truly was strolling through the Berwyn car show grounds on Ogden Avenue, sleeveless and solo (the boys were out whooping it up in Istanbul.  No kidding:  Istanbul, Not Constantinople, like the song).  ’Twas up to me to Represent, so I did.  Coming in from Oak Park Avenue, I noticed a few minor changes re: where the essentials were.  The food court was in a different location, the music stage was no longer in front of Ogden Top and Trim, and the tents for some of our favorite not-for-profit Route 66-related organizations were parked along the street rather than grouped together in an empty lot.  But otherwise, much was the same:  the 1950s-60s theme was alive and well, the aging-but-still-hanging-on wannabe hipster Dick Biondi (who uses more hair color than even Ronnie Reagan did) was still emcee, the show was still one of the largest displays of steam-cleaned car engines that you’ll ever see, and the cars were still mighty pretty.  Ooooh!

In fact, the day and the cars were so pretty that I didn’t mind at all not being able to find those gals from the Alpha Wellness Center on Harlem who usually give out free neck and shoulder massages at the car show, in addition to promotional ball-point pens.  My only regret is that one isn’t usually allowed to sit in the displayed cars (rats!).  But everyone had fun anyway.  So I did the same, passing out blog flyers and waving to people.  Minimum networking, just schmoozing with folks I hadn’t seen in a while and enjoying the nitro-fuel dragsters doing their fire-spitting demonstration.  Stopped by the Route 66 Association of Illinois tent to check out their Route 66 goodies and said hi to Cathy Stevanovich, Marty Blitstein and the gang.  Did the same with Jon Fey, Myles Slaughter, and the other folks from the Berwyn Route 66 Museum and Stacy Conn of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, all of whom seemed cheerful and relaxed.  As well they should be at such a laid-back event.

And oh, BTW, Mary Beth DeGrush and our friends from the Heritage Corridor CVB had a cartoonist on hand – who did a rather nice sketch of yours truly, wearing my summer straw fedora (some of you are more familiar with my black all-season one, but it was too warm for wool felt that day).  Many thanks to Bryan Janky, who did an excellent sketch of me sitting in – boy, do I wish – a nice little roadster convertible and cruising down Route 66 (naturally!).  From your pen to the cosmos’s consciousness, Bryan:  I’m still waiting on that roadster!!

Cartoonist Bryan Janky of the Heritage Corridor CVB  (Photo ©2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved.)

Cartoonist Bryan Janky of the Heritage Corridor CVB (Photo ©2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved.)

Speaking of which:  I saw two adorable baby-blue-and-white roadster convertibles and just couldn’t make up my mind which one I liked/coveted more – the Chevy Bel Air or the Rambler (at least, I think it was a Rambler).  Both had luminous white leather interiors, and either would have done me just fine.  So cute and fun!  I could definitely see myself in one of those.  Sigh …

2014 Berwyn Car Show 42 - cars 32 - blog (MRTraska)2014 Berwyn Car Show 40 - cars 30 - blog (MRTraska)Then there were the eye-searing yellow models  that made you back away and reach for your sunglasses, and a sleek little vintage Mustang that someone had custom-painted an eye-zapping insect green.  Such sweet lines to that car; but the color – it looked like an oversized aphid waiting for a giant ladybug to come eat it.  I kept thinking:  Who would DO that to a classic Mustang??  But hey, if you wanted people to notice it, mission accomplished.  And then some.  No purple or lipstick-pink models that I noticed for 2014, but there’s always this year.  I did, however, see a 1955 Ford Upside Down Pick-Up that I’m still not sure you can use as a pick-up (it would probably confuse the Chicago cops, who might stop it just for a look-see); but it did win the Just ’Coz It’s Neat award … obviously an impractical novelty car.

2014 Just ’Coz It’s Neat 1 - 1955 Ford Upside Down Pick-Up, Rick Sullivan (Janet Draper)

2014 Just ’Coz It’s Neat Award winner:  1955 Ford Upside Down Pick-Up, owned by Rick Sullivan (photo courtesy of Janet Draper).  Yes, but how do you drive it without being stopped by the cops?

Alas, I always want to have a fling with those handsome foreign devils, and this time I was torn between a (literally and figuratively) highly polished red 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California (which, appropriately, got the Mirror Image award) and a 1964 Porsche 356 Cabriolet that won the Foreign Affair award.  Yessir, I’ll take one of those, please!  You can throw in the Michel Legrand soundtrack to go, and I’ll make like Catherine Deneuve.

2014 Berwyn Car Show 11 - cars 1 - blog (MRTraska)Of course, a good home-grown pony car will always give the foreigners a run for their money, especially if it’s a Mustang Shelby Cobra GT.  None of that specific variety this time, but several came close.  A 2014 Ford Shelby GT 500 owned by Mike Arden from – gasp! – my own suburb, Oak Lawn, won the Magnificent Mustang award (geez, I should get to know my neighbors better; maybe I’d get a ride).  The Perfect Pony title went to Steve Salerno of Chicago and his 1966 Ford Mustang, whereas the 1993 Mustang owned by John Paterimos of Oak Forest won the Mighty Mustang award.  Nice going, y’all.

Our Route 66 pal Tony Melone of Elmhurst, whose beautifully maintained, two-tone buff and brown 1955 Buick Super graces the cover of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway’s 2014 visitor guide, picked up two awards this time – one for Sexy Sedan and one for Outstanding Entry (which, frankly, we don’t see in the official list, but for which we know he got an award plaque – because we saw it and photographed it; see photo).  Congrats, Tony!

2014 Berwyn Car Show 52 - Tony Melone & Stacy Conn - blog (MRTraska)

Two-time winner Tony Melone with his classic Buick and Stacy Conn of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway authority, Springfield  (Photo ©2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved.)

The obligatory Chairman’s Pick went to none other than Frank Magallon of Berwyn for his 2001 Chevrolet Camaro.  In case you didn’t know, Frank penned that little Arcadia Publishing picture book Little Village about Chicago’s South Lawndale neighborhood.  The Co-Chairman’s Pick was a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette owned by Steve Mayotte of Aurora, whereas the Head Judge’s Award went to Lee Tibstra of Palos Park for his 1960 Pontiac Bonneville.  Meanwhile, the Ledfoot News award was won by Jim Runzick of Palatine for his 1960 Cadillac Eldorado (Elvis would have been proud).  The Best of Show, Stock award (for unmodified cars) went to the oldest car at the show, a spiffy, well-preserved 1923 Model T Ford owned by James Grumbos, Villa Park.  Best of Show, Mod went to a modified 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray owned by Dino Sanchez, LaGrange.  At least one award was apparently easier to get than the others:  we’d swear that Michael Phelan must have received the improvised Long Distance award simply because he and his 1985 Cadillac Seville came all the way from Claude, TX.  And we really didn’t understand the Size Matters award, which was won by a 1969 Chevy Nova, of all things (which ain’t that big, guys), rather than one of those huge Caddies or a Hummer.  Go figure.


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What can we say about the rest of the winners?  Well, for one thing, a lot of Chevys walked away with prizes this time.  Out of 62 awards, 20 were won by Chevrolets of one sort or another (see complete list below), another 12 were won by various Ford models, and Cadillacs picked up six awards.  Beyond Mustangs and Camaros, there were relatively few American muscle cars in evidence and fewer still among the winners.  Not a good year for Pontiacs or Buicks (except in Tony Melone’s case), and only one Chrysler (a 300F) and one Dodge (a Daytona Charger) appeared among the winners.  I would have expected a few more Dodge Chargers, but it all depends on who shows up each year.  I’ll say this, however:  the hometown made a very respectable showing.  As a city, Berwyn beat all others except Chicago in garnering the greatest number of awards – Chicago had seven winners and Berwyn had six.  That doesn’t usually happen.  Bravo, Berwyn!

Below is the complete list of winners as I received it via e-mail.  Hearty congrats to all the winners!  Sincere apologies if I missed anyone or if your name is misspelled, but this is what I was given.  Meanwhile, y’all be nice to those sparkly rides as you keep them swaddled and warm in storage during the remaining winter.

Until next time, stay warm!

Your Route 66 car show correspondent,


2014 Berwyn Route 66 Car Show winners:

Absolutely Elegant – Frank Troost, Hillside; 1961 Chrysler 300F
American Dream – Fred Bartling; Arlington Heights; 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
Asian Invasion – Jose Aponte, Cicero; 2008 Mitsubishi Evolution GSR
Awesome ‘A’ – Kurt Kuhn, Chicago; 1930 Ford Model A Pick-Up Truck
B-B-Bad to the Bone – Bill DelFiacco, Bolingbrook; 1966 Chevrolet Malibu

Best of Show Mod – Dino Sanchez, LaGrange; 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Best of Show Stock – James Grumbos, Villa Park; 1923 Ford Model T
Bitchin’ Bike – Tony Roman, Berwyn; 2008 Harley-Davidson Rocker
Chairman’s Pick – Frank Magallon, Berwyn; 2001 Chevrolet Camaro
Class Act – Jeff Agonath, Bensenville; 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire

Co-Chairman’s Pick – Steve Mayotte, Aurora; 1967 Chevrolet Corvette
Cool Coupe – Bill Glowacki, Plainfield; 1946 Ford Coupe
Cool Cruiser – Jesus Gomez, Romeoville; 1987 Quick Silver
Current Events – David De Mato, Chicago; 1968 Chevrolet Camaro
Excellent Engine – Peter Dubsky, Berwyn; 1960 Cadillac Series 62

Fabulous Fat Fendered – Ron Coco, Palos Heights; 1948 Buick Roadmaster
Factory Muscle – Ronald Kaine, River Forest; 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle
Far Out Fins – Randy Fierke, Hinsdale; 1958 Cadillac
Foreign Affair – Steven Moore, Mundelein; 1964 Porsche 356 Cabriolet
Gorgeous Graphics – Guillermo Alvarez, Cicero; 1968 Chevrolet Caprice

Head Judge’s Award – Lee Tibstra, Palos Park; 1960 Pontiac Bonneville
Hog Heaven – Dave Johnson, East Moline; 2001 Dyna Low Rider
Hot Hauler – Bob Nagel, Baraboo, WI; 1955 Chevrolet 3100 Pick-Up
Impressive Import – Conrad Alexander, Chicago; 2013 Morgan 3-Wheeler
Inner Beauty – Colin Sprau, Chicago; 1934 Ford Sedan

Intriguing Interior – Steve Hoenig, Beach Park; 1970 Dodge Daytona Charger
Just ’Coz It’s Neat – Rick Sullivan, Clinton; 1955 Ford Upside Down
Lady’s Pick – Kevin Hamelen, Crestwood; 1948 ? (car unidentified in list)
Ledfoot News – Jim Runzick, Palatine; 1960 Cadillac Eldorado
Lovely Low-rider – Javier Quiroz, Oswego; 1947 Chevy Fleetline

Long Distance – Michael Phelan, Claude, TX; 1985 Cadillac Seville
Low, Low Lid – Ron Barclay, Gilberts; 1932 Ford Vicky
Magnificent Mustang – Mike Arden, Oak Lawn; 2014 Ford Shelby GT 500
Mighty Mustang – John Paterimos, Oak Forest; 1993 Ford Mustang
Mirror Image – Randall Carda, Bloomingdale; 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California

Need For Speed – Leo Guerra Sr., Tinley Park; Chevrolet Camaro (year not provided)
One Fine Deuce – Tim Thompson, Hinsdale; 1932 Ford 3-Window
Outrageously Original – Sean Lantis, Berwyn; 1931 Ford Model A
Perfect Pony – Steve Salerno, Chicago; 1966 Ford Mustang
Pleasantly Preserved – Daniel Sanrez, Chicago; 1947 Pontiac Streamline

Pleasin’ Paint – Robert Damon, Monee; 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS
Pleasin’ Presentation – Joseph Urso, Harwood Heights; 1973 Volvo 1800 ES
Raging Ragtop – Phil Swasko, Berwyn; 1966 Rambler American Convertible
Righteous Roadster – Luigi Scola, Bolingbrook; 1929 Ford Model A Roadster, Open
Scrapin’ – J.B. Bracken, Chicago; 1935 Rat Rod

Sexy Sedan – Tony Melone, Elmhurst; 1955 Buick Super
Size Matters – Tony Palumbo Jr., Stickney; 1969 Chevrolet Nova
Slick And Smooth – Abraham Arce, Cicero; 1963 Cadillac de Ville
Slick Sled – Sam Marsala, West Chicago; 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air
Slo & Lo – Phil Puleo, Plainfield; 1970 Cadillac de Ville

Sooo Low – Brett Bennett, Aurora; 1953 Chevrolet 210
Special Edition – Michael Borowiak, Wheaton; 2013 Chevrolet Camaro
Street Sweeper – Tracey Uhren, Bensenville; 1972 Pontiac Firebird
Terrific “T” – Phil Tuminaro, Rolling Meadows; 1923 T-Bucket
Terrific Tuner – Johnny Diaz, Berwyn; 2005 Subaru ST-1

Track Star – Dave Verschave, Tinley Park; 1955 Chevrolet 2-Door
Tremendous Truck – Larry Kluskens, Schiller Park; 1949 Chevrolet 3100 Pick-Up
Way Cool – Craig Hyslop, Orland Park; 1999 Chevrolet Corvette
Whole Lotta Chrome – John Zigauto, Brookfield; 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Wild Ride – Jim Thibeaut, Homer Glen; 2000 Chopper

Wild Wagon – John Macchia, Riverside; 1934 Sedan Delivery
Wild Wheels – Paul Polaski, Lyons; 1974 MG Midget

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